Temperatures are dropping and we’re all looking for ways to extend our time outdoors. And what better option to add warmth and ambiance to your exterior space than with a fire pit?
Whether you’re finding that stores are sold out or you just like to DIY, building your own fire pit is totally within reach. Also, if you think that your yard or balcony is too small for a fire pit, not to worry; we’ve got a DIY fire pit option for even the tiniest of outdoor spaces.
Know the Rules
No matter where you live, there are most likely rules and by-laws for outdoor fire pits you need to consider. If you live in an urban area, you may not be able to have open-air wood-burning fires. And even if you live in the country, you’ll need to obtain a burn permit before you light anything. You should also be aware of seasonal and temporary restrictions that prevent burning when conditions are dry.
Choose the Right Location
Once you know what type of fire feature you can have, you have to find the perfect location. Fire and building codes dictate how far your fire pit should be from structures and overhead obstructions such as trees or power lines. You also want to ensure you have enough room to sit around the fire pit. If you have a small patio or balcony, you’ll have to decide between floor or tabletop models.
DIY Backyard Fire Pit
For a wood-burning fire pit, concrete blocks, pavers or stones are all good options for fire-safe building materials. After choosing the material, decide on your fire pit’s shape and map it out on the ground. Aim to make it around 3-4 feet in diameter to keep fires at a safe size you can control.
Before you start building the fire pit, you’ll have to prep the base. Dig out an area about 6-7” deep that is large enough to accommodate the fire pit with an additional ring around it for fire safety. Pack the dirt well and then fill the hole with crushed gravel to complete the base.
Once the base is ready, you can place the first layer of blocks. Aim to keep the stones leveled and at a consistent height, pushing them together as you work. If necessary, add leveling sand to even the stones out as you go. After completing the first row, start the second level making sure to stagger the joints between rows.
For best results, use a steel ring or box to line the center of your fire pit. This will prevent the stones from cracking under intense heat and preserve your fire pit’s look and structure. Test the inner ring to ensure it fits, and then use construction adhesive as you add additional layers. It will help secure the stones and ensure the fire pit is sturdy. Once the blocks are all in place, add a metal bowl or ring in the center, and you’re ready for a fire.
DIY Concrete Fire Bowl
A concrete fire bowl is an excellent option if you live in an area that doesn’t allow wood-burning fires. Non-wood-burning fire pits light quickly and don’t produce any smoke or sparks, so they’re ideal for urban locales. And when you make the bowl yourself, you get exactly the size that fits your space!
Tip: to ensure your bowl is large enough, decide on the heat source type before you begin.
There a few different options when it comes to alternative heat sources. For smaller fire pits, gel fuel cans are safe and convenient and give off a lot of heat. But if you’re dreaming of something larger, look for a steel ring burner kit that can burn either gas or propane.
You’ll need a concrete mix and two bowls or buckets to use as molds to make the fire pit. The larger bowl will determine the size of your fire pit, and the second bowl should be approximately 2-3” smaller to form the inside wall. You’ll also need a grill grate that fits inside the smaller bowl and the heat source.
Mix the concrete according to directions and spray the molds with non-stick spray. Put a thick layer of concrete in the larger bowl and place the smaller bowl inside. Press down to remove any air bubbles. Put weights in the inner bowl to keep it in place and leave it to sit for 48 hours.
Once the concrete has cured, gently remove the molds and sand down any rough edges. Install the burner ring or place the gel can inside the bowl and put the grate over them. Put a layer of fire-safe rocks over the grate, and all you have left to do is light the fire.
Don’t let a little cold weather send you indoors for the season. Try one of these DIY fire pits ideas and continue to enjoy the outdoors!